Being More Energy Efficient in the New Year
What is your New Year's Resolution?
Winter has arrived here in the northeast right on time compared to last year when it didn't show up at all and the year before that when it showed up a month late. When the cold weather comes so can a lot of problems around your house.
As we know water freezes at 32 degrees, this can happen in your home even if you have the thermostat set at 50, 55, 60, or even 65. The pipes that carry water throughout your home can freeze and cause a great deal of damage. The rate and chances of your pipes freezing depend on the inside temp and the outdoor temps and weather conditions. On a typical winter day where the temp is in the twenties or thirties as long as you keep your house somewhere in the 60s and have decent insulation you'll have a pretty low risk of any pipes freezing inside your home.
Once the temps start to drop in November you should close any outdoor water taps and bring in any hoses. Make sure to go inside and turn off the water supply to the tap as well, this will keep water further away from the cold temps. Pipes that are exposed outside have the greatest risk of freezing. This can create a leak in an area of your home that you might not go to frequently, allowing for water damage to spread more than in a more occupied area of your home.
The outside temp greatly affects the chances of your pipes freezing, last February we saw temps drop below zero. But it's not always the temps that cause pipes to freeze, but the wind if there is wind. Most of the coldest days that we've experienced aren't in fact that cold when you just look at the temperature. The actual temp and the "feels" like temp can we very different if there is a strong amount of wind, produce a wind chill. This past week (December 12-18) we saw real temps in the single digits with feels like temps dropping in the double-digit negatives. When there are strong winds constantly hitting your home any pipes that are in those walls are very susceptible to freezing if there isn't proper insulation present. The constant wind against your home can greatly reduce the temp to the point where water can freeze.
Some other areas of your home that are prone to pipe freezing are surprising not found in your basement. Most homes have the heating system in your basement this means that heat comes off of your system heats the room that it's in. This, of course, doesn't mean that pipes in your basement won't freeze, be on the watch for pipes that are far away from the heat source and close to the exterior of your home. Some of the most prone areas are kitchens and bathrooms that are on exterior facing walls. While your kitchen or even your bathroom might be toasty, your pipes are nicely tucked away in a cabinet blocked from heat.
On cold windy nights keep an eye on your pipes and if you are fearful of your pipes freezing, open up your cabinet doors to let heat in. Also, open up faucets to allow for hot water to flow through your pipes preventing them from freezing. If your pipes do freeze it's best not to try to unfreeze them yourself. Contact a trained professional to unfreeze your pipes. Unfreezing pipes on your own can lead to bursts of damage from quick changes in temps for your pipes.